Most people don’t face the challenge of a bad habit and then suddenly change overnight because they want to. Whatever the toxic behavior, it’s something you build up over time. It becomes ingrained in you. It takes Herculean amounts of mental fortitude just to get yourself in the right mindset to start working on bad habits. And without feeling mentally ready and prepared to change, you likely won’t. I recently read about the transtheoretical model of behavior change, or TTM. While there are several models floating around out there, I connected personally to this well-known theory when it came to recently re-igniting my health and fitness journey. Created in the 1980s by alcoholism researchers James O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente, TTM revolves around the idea that “change is a process, not an event.” At any given time, a person wrestling with a toxic habit is in one of the five stages of change: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, or maintenance. This, I realized, is me. It’s as if Prochaska and DiClemente were inside my head, seeing what goes on when I’m trying and failing to get rid of a bad habit I can’t seem to kick. This would explain why once I stopped exercising, it took me so long to get from thinking about how I wanted to start again, to actually doing it.